The Cover-up Caper

By staff November 1, 2003

When your address is The Water Club, gorgeous Gulf views are the centerpiece of any d├ęcor. Good design, then, should eliminate elements that detract. And in this particular condominium, the cleanup called for paint by the gallon and thick applications of plaster on nearly every wall. A cover-up operation best describes the job.

"Every wall surface of the place was faux painted, gilded and tinted in purple, green and gold," explains designer Sally Trout. "Trim work was painted yellow, ceilings were metallic gold and a very bold animal print was also thrown in, just for fun." Oh, and there were seashells. "Someone painted genuine shells with gold metallic paint and then glued them to the walls," describes project coordinator Molly Laub. "We had to chisel each one off individually with a metal nail file."

The new owners, a husband and wife hailing from Memphis, envisioned a fresh, cool environment for entertaining family and friends. A top executive with a Fortune 500 company, the husband first came to Longboat Key in 1956 as a youngster with his family and stayed at Far Horizons. He courted his wife on Longboat and after marriage and child-rearing, the couple decided to create a dream vacation home for annual get-togethers and family reunions. The spacious fifth-floor condominium offered ample square footage, with private elevator and superb location. True, the Mardi Gras color scheme caused everyone to squint, but all agreed that this was the place.

Since no amount of paint alone could ever conceal prior choices, Trout and Laub had the walls skip-troweled and washed with a sand-colored glaze for a cool stone effect. Neutral tile floors were polished to a gleaming finish. Baseboards and moldings were painted. Windows were showcased with cool ivory linen panels to frame the view. One touch of a switch activates motorized shades that close for privacy or retract completely.

Once floors, walls and ceilings became monochromatic, the room expanded and became a clean backdrop for interesting rugs, furnishings and accessories. "The owners embrace color and were very receptive to an interior with a fresh, lively mix of tones and texture," says Trout. And they drew inspiration from some wonderful masters of color. "They own original artwork by Bonnie Kline, Marsha Hammel, Erschell, Tom Millsap, David Gerstein, David Steiner, Sal Falcone and more," explains Laub. "These beautiful paintings and pieces drove the color design."

The Preview sofa in aqua exactly matches the Gulf of Mexico on a clear day and is accented with custom pillows in raspberry sherbet and Tuscan yellow. A custom rug by a California artist mixes cotton, velvet and suede strips in an exuberant nouveau rag motif. Fremarc tables and chairs for dining and gaming are done in warm woods with richly patterned companion fabrics by Designer Guild and Osborne & Little. The Colbiri cocktail table with turned legs is done in alderwood and above the dining table is a custom-designed Hart chandelier that illuminates the room and serves as a stunning example of contemporary metal sculpture.

A black lacquer Bombay chest and jeweled trunk add an exotic touch, while tiny halogen lamps suspended from the ceiling give directed or diffused light and reflect off a collection of art glass. The result is a happy profusion of textures, patterns and colors with an energetic and lighthearted feel. "These are fun people," describes Trout. "Now their beach place expresses that sense of enjoyment and delight." And the sea shines through.


Design by Sally Trout

Project Coordination by Molly Laub

Wall textures and finishes by Pete Drew

Ceiling painting and hand-painted fabrics by Pamela Marweede

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